Cova da Iria

Cova da Iria, 2495-438 Fátima, Portugal

On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in the valley of Cova da Iria in the parish of Fatima in Portugal. She asked them to pray for peace in the world. The apparition was repeated for the next five months. (The area was a little known poor hamlet. The people were simple, hard working peasants and were very isolated. That all changed after May 13th, 1917).

The children were promised a miracle so others would believe in the apparitions. October 13th, 1917 was the occasion of the “Miracle of the Sun” in which the sun spun toward the earth and the 70,000 people (many walked from days away to be present) were terrified. It had rained for hours and they were soaked and noticed only after the sun retreated back up into the sky, that they and the ground were totally dry. The sun’s path was studied and even unbelievers accepted the sign as a miracle. Personal miracles occurred that day.

A little chapel was built on the spot where the Lady appeared. So many came to pray that in 1928, construction on a Basilica was begun. The edifice was completed in 1953. All three of the seers are buried in the Basilica. On the 13th day of the month from May ‘til October hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather at Fatima and fill the square which is twice the size of the square at the Vatican. When I wander around the square, go into, the Basilica, or visit the chapel I think about the history of Fatima and its awesome message.

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Lighting the candles

At the Fatima Shrine in the Cova da Iria candles are lit every evening for the procession and there is a bank of lit candles near the side of the little chapel that marks the spot of Mary’s apparitions in 1917. Many miracles have been recorded at the Cova which occurred during pilgrimages.

You choose the size and type of candle you want and pay the suggested offering. (The candles’ wax drips down into a huge well and the wax is recycled for new candles). Pilgrims place the candle in the appropriate size metal hole and light them. Sometimes, the heat and roar of the candles is very impressive. You can feel the power of prayer as you place your offering and say your prayers of thanksgiving and/or petition. If you are a believer, the experience is a powerful one.

To watch the candles burn at the large bank or at the evening procession ( you place a small candle in a paper or plastic shield) is part of the Fatima Pilgrimage. The evening procession schedule is printed on information that you can pick up at the information center located to the left of the main entrance steps of the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria.

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